Juvenile judge, law director claim ex-Anderson official padded his salary
CLINTON - Anderson County's former Juvenile Court director padded his salary by diverting paychecks of fired workers to his salary code, boosting his 2006 pay by $4,500, officials alleged Tuesday.
Kevin Ledden also converted grant money for inappropriate uses, falsified grant applications and "double-dipped'' by getting paid to teach a state class on county time, according to the county's juvenile judge and law director.
Judge April Meldrum and County Law Director Jay Yeager told members of the Anderson County Ethics Committee on Tuesday of the accusations against Ledden.
Meldrum said she has asked the Anderson County District Attorney's Office to investigate.
Ledden, an Oak Ridge resident, was a county employee for 18 years and worked for seven years as director of juvenile services before Meldrum fired him last September.
As director, Ledden drafted the annual Juvenile Court budget, did the payroll and supervised the five youth service officers, Meldrum said.
According to Yeager, Ledden:
- Shifted $1,500 from the salary code of a person terminated from a tobacco cessation grant program and moved it into his own salary code.
- Added $3,000 to his pay code after another juvenile court employee was fired.
- Altered a grant application in order to obtain $5,200 to buy furniture for his office.
- Spent state money earmarked for computer equipment and used the funds to buy five flat-screen TVs for juvenile court offices.
- Tried to wrongly siphon off a $2,600 administrative fee from a grant to pay attorneys representing indigent juveniles.
- Used a county purchasing card to buy a $40 pair of pants from Kohl's.
Ledden applied for unemployment after he was fired from his job, for which he was paid $48,366 in 2006, Yeager said.
Ledden's application was denied, and he appealed. A state appeals hearing officer nixed that bid in a November ruling.
According to hearing officer David Lufkin, Ledden was fired "for a continuous scheme to pad his personal salary and working conditions with inappropriate deceit, converted funds, falsified and unapproved grant applications and purchases."
Ledden "did not deny a large portion of these allegations, stating that this 'had been the practice for many years,' " Lufkin's ruling states.
Ethics Committee members Tuesday debated what action, if any, to take. Since Meldrum has already sent the accusations to the DA, they did nothing.
Circuit Court Clerk Barry Pelizzari lamented that Ledden wasn't present to "have the opportunity to explain his conduct."
"I feel like what's been necessary has been done," Meldrum said. "I knew it had merit to bring before the (ethics) committee."
Efforts to contact Ledden were unsuccessful Tuesday evening.
Bob Fowler, News Sentinel Anderson County editor, may be reached at 865-481-3625.